Friday, May 18, 2007

Looking 95

I’ve been tagged by - oh dear, I've forgotten! I will find out! - for 7 random facts about myself. I had to take a class for an absent colleague this afternoon and had nothing else to do while they wrote, so didn’t allow myself time to think, thus making this more random, as specified. This is what I came up with.

1. I’m sitting looking at my engagement ring, which is an opal set in diamonds. Opals are supposed to be bad luck – presumably because they chip easily – but thirty-five years on, all seems to be reasonably well, at least as far as the engagement goes.

2. My lilies of the valley, with which I have a love/hate relationship, are going to need some serious attacking after they’ve flowered. I love love love the scent, but they spread as fast as I can dig them out – these nasty little tangly roots. They’re coming up in the lawn and between the paving slabs. Very bad.

3. Daughter 2 decided to cycle to work today for the first time. We live in Murrayfield, which is about three miles west of the city centre, and she works in Leith, which is about three miles out of the other side. There’s a cycle track most of the way, but Leith is by the sea – so at sea level, obviously – and while it’s downhill there, it’s uphill back again. And it’s unseasonably windy, and rather wet. (PS – She got home exhilarated but a bit exhausted. It’s now 10.03 pm and she’s just come into the study. “I’m going to bed,” she said. “An hour and fifteen minutes of exercise's made me feel 95.” She doesn’t look 95. See above. That was her in Seville a few weeks ago.)

4. I love baths and hate showers. I’m not very technically-minded and showers, to me, are machines. I’m not good at controlling them. Also I’m always cold in a shower – the bits of me under the water are warm, but not the bits that stick out. But lying in a nice, warm bath, with all my aching joints (which seem to be most of them, these days, alas) cooking nicely… bliss. And of course, you can’t read in a shower, can you?

5. I blog in our study. This is possibly rather an elevated name for the room, but it has two desks (my husband’s and mine) each with its computer; lots of bookshelves; various files and other stationery equipment; a chest of drawers containing all sorts of vital things such as programmes from school concerts that the children appeared in and drawings and letters they produced when they were little. There also tend to be little piles of… stuff… sitting around. We keep the rest of the house tidy by popping things into the study. This is not a good idea. Eventually it all gets moved on.

6. I have four names – three and then a surname. This is a bit much, in my opinion. My first name is also the title of what is usually considered to be the first novel written in English, though most people abbreviate it when addressing me. My second is my mother’s – she was named after the month in which she was born. My third is Isabelle, which I like quite a lot more than my first name. Both my grandmothers were called Isabella: one was always known as Isa (pronounced Eye-za) and the other as Ella. I hide behind “Isabelle” just in case - extremely unlikely - any of my students read this. But I do feel quite like an Isabelle.

7. I’m quite interested in science, but realised a few years ago that I’m really much more interested in lots of other things and that therefore the vague idea that I’d always harboured that I would become more scientifically literate wasn’t going to happen, not in the one lifetime. I have real enthusiasm for writing, reading, design of various sorts, gardening of course, and languages – not necessarily in any particular order. I speak reasonable French, bad German, very bad Spanish and Greek, absolutely terrible Japanese and Gaelic – but really enjoy going to language classes and allowing some of the grammar, vocabulary and culture of another language to sink in a bit. I can also claim Latin, I suppose – does that count? I did it for six years at school and it’s amazing how much has stuck, despite my having had the world’s most boring teacher. Nowadays, alas, things tend to slide through my ancient brain leaving little trace.

I'm sure most of you have already been tagged, so apologies if you have - I don't have time to check, since I must get up to my mum's for the night - but how about Rise out of Me, Fifi, Square One and Wifemomchocoholic revealing seven random things about themselves? Sorry that I don't know how to do the underlining thing. No wonder I drown in showers.

(Next day: have just read Fifi's suggestion that my name might be Arthur, Mallory or Morte. I love it! But no.)


  1. Sorry! No sympathies here for your lily of the valley problems!
    With you on the warm bath. Add a good book and a hot cup of tea....bliss.
    Nice to meet someone with as many names as me. My oldest son likes to be formal and use them all!! Latin was a drag at school, but I'm glad every day that I was subjected to such torture!

  2. I loved your interesting and entertaining post. I understand the love/hate relationship with the lilies of the valley. Years ago, the neighborhood children decided to taste the lily of the valley berries and ended up with having their stomachs pumped. In anger and fear, I pulled up every last plant, and in the spring there were even more plants. These days, I do religiously dispose of all of the noxious berries.

  3. Intesting perspective on showers.. I think I feel the same. If I want to be warm and relaxed.. the bath is the only way to go :-).. Oh and instead of bathcubes (I have sensitive skin)..I add reading material and a towel to keep my hands dry.

  4. Ha ha ha!!! I just googlef "first novel in English, so now am trying to work out if you ae called Arthur, Malory or Morte.
    Shall continue with Isabelle, since that is, almost to the letter, my favourite name, and that of my only girl-child. Certainly suits you more than morte, anyway.

    I feel positively famous to have been mentioned by name here, but i dont know what a tag even is, and I dont know how to do those underline thingys anyway. I know what a mexican wave is, though. I can do them, except that they have been banned on account of the flying beer cans.

    ah, thanks for the thoroughly entertaining piece.
    Lily of the valley, I thought this was a biblical concept rather than an actual plant.
    I'm with you on the disguise, I think if my students got wind that I nibble seaweed under the ocean they would be quite possibly alarmed.
    have a lovely weekend.

  5. I know what you mean re disguise. The problem is that I started my blog years before I even dreamt I might have students, or be teaching. Oh well.
    Baths? Oh yes. I also hate showers, and have what must be the world record in drowned books. I can do Latin too, and Italian badly, german ok, and Afrikaans, with a smattering of phrases in Greek, Yiddish and xhosa.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. O ..... Round, entire, circle

    PAL .... self explanatory

    So what if it gets a little chipped??

    Aren't we all a little ragged around the edges?

    Love showers, hate baths.

    Can't get passed the "sitting in your own grime" bit!

    Encourage your daughter to persevere! It DOES get easier and the rewards are wonderful!

  7. Oh to be so cursed with Lily of the Valley. Must admit, I didnt know about the berries though.. My grandmother had them growing, & the scent is divine, but I dont remember them multiplying?
    Loved your very interesting list.
    My son says if he ever has a daughter he will call her Isabelle.

  8. I am hugely entertained as always, reading your blog, Isabelle! And I envy you your bath these days. I shower most nights because I wash my hair under the shower, but once a week (or more if I have time) I run a bath about 6" deep, with lots of bubbles and oils, and stay in it until it is just lukewarm. Before water restrictions, I had a bath up to pussy's bow, and stayed in it for hours, topping it up with hot water as required. Many books fell in the water as I fell asleep - and yes, two were library books that cost me heaps to replace!

  9. I love baths over showers too, for all the same reasons. But in this house we are cursed with a teeny tiny bath, the exact length of a three-year-old and I hate it so much that I have forsworn baths until we move house.

    Are your initials GMI?